Thursday, July 23, 2020

July 23, 1931 -- Chicago Historical Society Moves into New Quarters

JBartholomew Photo
July 23, 1931 – The cornerstone of the new Chicago Historical Society building at North Avenue and Clark Street is laid with no formal ceremonies.  Articles placed in the cornerstone include photographs of the society’s trustees, a list of members and contributors to the building fund, booklets containing the history of the society, and copies of daily newspapers.  The new building, a red brick Georgian-style museum designed by Graham, Anderson, Probst and White, is officially opened on October 9, 1932.  In 1986 a new wing and an underground storage facility, along with a new fa├žade was added according to designs by the architectural firm of Holabird and Root.  It is the city’s oldest cultural institution.


July 23, 1978 – Forty years ago on this date the Chicago Tribune runs an article on Wells Street with the headline, “Can Wells St. be Turned Around?” [Chicago Tribune, July 23, 1978] with the lead, “It’s a ragtag street, North Wells Street – a place that has been trying to be a lot of things at once, a place that has been up and, more recently, down.”  In the words of one Old Town merchant, as the area between Goethe on the south and Lincoln Avenue on the north began to change in the 70’s to nude dancing establishments and adult book stores, “The families didn’t want to come.  Those places are what killed us, and too much dope around – that’s not good.  No businessman here is making any money now. At the end of the week we’re pulling money from our pockets to pay the bills.”  Two months before the article runs, though, a collection of community groups in Old Town forms the Near North Association, and Robert A. Begassat, the president of the new group, says, “What we want to do is make Old Town a place people will come to again, and at the same time a place for the people in the neighborhood.”  Already, bowing to community pressure and increased police surveillance of prostitution, three of six bars with nude dancing have closed.  Recently, Alderman Burton F. Natarus successfully has passed a zoning change for the east side of Wells between Burton Place and Schiller designed to keep new taverns out. Sam Glassman, the president of the Old Town Chamber of Commerce and owner of the Book Joynt in Old Town, is cautiously optimistic, saying, “This street will never be what it once was, but if we can do half what we did, it will be terrific.  I’ve been here 12 years and I’ve seen it at the top and I’ve seen it at the bottom.  There’s only one way to go now, because we’ve hit the bottom.  But it’ll come back.”  And come back it has as a stroll down Wells Street on a July afternoon or a salad and a glass of Sauvignon Blanc at Topo Gigio will clearly show.


choosechicago.com
July 23, 1975 – In Chicago as part of a 58-city tour, the Rolling Stones make a splash in the city that gave them the music that formed the heart of their act.  The group arrives at O’Hare with an entourage of 30 people, heading downtown to the Ambassador East in six limousines, arriving at 9:30 p.m.  Then come the suitcases with “a large truck depositing more than 130 pieces of luggage at the Ambassador’s doorstep.”  [Chicago Tribune, July 23, 1975]  The suitcases fill the entire lobby as “bellhops worked furiously until it disappeared like the stars and filled the 32 rooms Jagger had reserved.”  Then one of the guests on the fifteenth floor, Michael Benz, the assumed name of front man Mick Jagger, slips out the back door and heads to the Pump Room for dinner. From there he heads to Faces on Rush Street, where he “slumps in his seat, playing imaginary drums to the piped-in music, staring at the dance floor.”  Bumming a cigarette from a reporter, he remarks, “It can make you mad – the road.  No sleep, no regular food, a lot of drinking – crazy … very tired all the time.”  At 4:00 a.m. Faces closes down and Tribune reporter Rick Soll writes, “Mick Jagger goes out into the darkness, led to waiting cabs by his protectors … He turns, then stops to wave, then stops himself, shrugs, and climbs inside … They’re all strangers.”  Could this have REALLY been 45 years ago?  Whew .... THAT went by in a hurry.



July 23, 1925 – Chicago’s new Union Station is formally opened at 11:30 a. m.  The ceremonies begin with Mayor William Dever and other officials touring the structure that covers 35 acres just west of the river between Adams Street and Jackson Boulevard.  After the tour is completed the guests are entertained at a luncheon served in the terminal's Fred Harvey restaurant.  The waiting rooms are finished in marble and cover an expanse as large as three baseball diamonds.   The terminal includes a jail for prisoners in transit, a hospital and a chapel.  Graham, Anderson, Probst and White are the architects of the complex.  The photo above shows the massive terminal as it appeared when it opened in 1925.




July 23, 1897 – Five thousand invitees come to the Art Institute of Chicago to honor the sculptor August St. Gaudens and the widow of General John A. Logan.  “For nearly two hours,” the Chicago Daily Tribune reports, “the throng filed in and out of the room known as the Henry Field gallery, where they were greeted by Mrs. Logan, Mr. St. Gaudens, and the members of the receiving party.  Charles H. Hutchinson, President of the Art Institute, stood at the head of the line, introducing the guests to Mrs. Logan, who offered her hand to each in a hearty grasp.  Scores of times during the evening did Mrs. Logan demonstrate her rare faculty for remembering the names and faces of those whom she had met only casually before.”  [Chicago Daily Tribune, July 24, 1897]  The event is held just two days after the widow of the great Civil War general arrives in the city from New York for the dedication of her husband’s statue in Grant Park.  The sculptor, August St. Gaudens, spends the evening of the Art Institute reception in humility.  The Tribune reports that he “stood almost at the end of the line of those receiving the guests.  He who was most talked of among the thousands who thronged the galleries and promenaded the corridors, who was the cynosure of all eyes, was in mien and bearing the most unassuming man in the entire assemblage.  With quiet dignity he received the congratulations that were showered upon him, his clear, keen eyes lighting up now and again as some artist friend added a word of appreciative criticism to his friendly greeting and congratulation.”  For more information on the Logan statue you can turn to this link in Connecting the Windy City.



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